Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘planning

Adding Electricity

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Despite the sweltering heat and humidity bathing our first day of autumn, freezing temperatures are not too far off, so work has begun to add electricity to the chicken coop. With an outlet available, we will have the option to provide a waterer that won’t freeze and maybe a light or heat lamp, depending on the situation.

On my third attempt to drill through the floor and miss a stud or screw, we were able to pull wire up for an outlet box. Then we trenched.

 

The chickens seemed to take great interest in our progress. Maybe they sense this is for them?

We are over halfway to the barn circuit breaker box this morning, so I’m optimistic I can get it done by winter.

Maybe I have some skills in procrastination. Time will tell.

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Written by johnwhays

September 24, 2017 at 9:02 am

Marketing Crunch

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Here is a peek behind our Wintervale curtain. Cyndie’s two months of pent-up energy while out of commission with the bum shoulder has now exploded in a barrage of hyper-active efforts to do a year’s worth of planning and execution in a span of a few weeks.

In addition to our recently getting a Wintervale Ranch presence on Facebook and updating our website, Cyndie has now pumped out more than a half-dozen flyers promoting specific workshops with times, dates, and registration fees.

She has quickly made things real.

With our precious friend, Dunia, planning to come from her home in Guatemala to help, they have plotted an impressive series of workshops with a variety of areas of focus, planned one-after-the-other, for the last few weeks of August.

Now all they need to do is get the word out while also enticing some learners to leap at the chance. That effort started small, with some posts on the Wintervale Facebook page, but after it became obvious that choice provides a rather limited reach, the next logical step was, paid advertising.

Stop. Picture John and Cyndie suddenly switching hats to [untrained] Marketing Specialists in 2017. I have already submitted our business information and location to Google maps. I have also manually ventured to update search engine optimization for our website. Dipping toes into the world of social media paid advertising is a whole ‘nother thing.

It’s a jungle in there.

We not only need to increase the number of viewers, they need to be enticed to make some pretty prompt decisions about committing to participate. That’s a tall order.

Good thing Cyndie and Dunia like to dwell in positive possibilities. And, we are guaranteed nothing would happen if they didn’t at least try.

This week we are ordering new logo’d shirts for facilitators, and a flag for the end of the driveway.

We can lead people toward what we have to offer, but we can’t make them drink. Or something like that.

Give it a couple of weeks and I’ll let you know how things are turning out.

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Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2017 at 6:00 am

Adding Hay

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Our original local hay source is back. Tom was the first reliable local provider of small bales from whom we purchased hay 3 years ago. At that time, we over-bought and ended up not needing more bales from him the following year. Then there was a wet year where he didn’t have any second-cut grass bales that met our needs.

We ended up shopping around.

This year conditions have been good for hay and he called to see if we were interested. Last night we hustled over to see what he was offering and ended up bringing home a truck-full. His bales include a larger percentage of stemmy content than our most recent supplier who Cyndie found through a local ad, but Tom is located half the distance away.

If our horses don’t reject Tom’s hay outright, we’ll probably put in a reservation for another 160 bales or so from him. We expect to be bringing in hay from three different sources this year, and would like to avoid coming up short before the winter season is over.

I think determining the correct number of bales needed for a year is more of an art than a science. We haven’t quite mastered the craft yet, but each year we seem to be gaining skills. It would help if the horses wouldn’t be so picky about eating what is served.

It doesn’t do a lot of good to have the hay shed filled with bales that the horses won’t eat. I’m told they’ll be less picky if they get hungry enough, but we haven’t seen that happen here yet.

We are offering the horses some test servings of the hay varieties we are putting up this summer to bolster our confidence on the new bales before committing with money and stacking muscle on further truckloads.

It’s a manner of practicing our artistic skills.

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Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

Perfect Weather

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I am visualizing perfect weather for a week of bicycling and tent camping. It could happen.

This morning I will hope to get the property mowed at the last minute so the grass shouldn’t be too long when I return to cut it again next Friday. This afternoon I will load up my bike and gear in the car and depart for a week of vacation.

This trip may not offer much chance to catch up on sleep, but I will have ample opportunity to take a mental break from the daily grind, and I will eat and laugh heartily with some very special like-minded cycling friends. This trip is a wonderful mental vacation because I don’t need to make any major decisions. The daily meals, the route, and the camping locations are all predetermined.

I just show up and ride. Oh, maybe I will waffle over what jersey to put on each day, but that’s about as complicated as it will get. Last night, I laid out gear and clothes while trying to imagine the usual routines of the week, in attempt to prepare for everything.

I would do myself a favor to now review the choices I made and divide it in half. I don’t think there has been a year where I ever needed everything I usually pack. Last year, I tried traveling lighter than my usual. This year, I would like to improve on that.

Just hoping the days near Lake Superior won’t complicate things. That massive body of water is a very effective air conditioner and can drop the temperature dramatically if the breeze flows from the direction of the lake. Warm clothes and packing light conflict a little when it comes to my wardrobe.

Over the years, I’ve heard tales of a wide range of essential items being forgotten by participants. I would like to avoid making an unplanned purchase of a critical item, so I will be working off a cheat sheet. Oddly, it seems I have filed away my master list from the many prior years I’ve done this trip.

Making a new list. I can remember to bring everything on my list, but did I remember to put everything I want on the list? Yeah, that’s the trick.

As long as I have my bike, both wheels, my cycling shoes and helmet, tent, sleeping bag, and pad, I’m good. Other than some clothes, the rest is all non-essential. I will bring my guitar this year, though, since the weather is going to be perfect.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Fiery Sky

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The horses were heavily harassed by biting flies yesterday, which made my session of scooping manure a lively affair. The biggest hazard, beyond unpredictable flailing hooves as they fling a leg out in response to a bite, is the nasty snap of their tails. They could take an eye out with that whipping action. At the very least, it stings when they get you.

I’ve noticed they will frequently align themselves to purposely have their heads in the wash of someone else’s tail for added fly management. There is no doubt they are thicker skinned than we are. I wouldn’t be able to endure the beating.

I worked well past the dinner hour last night, after a full shift at the day-job, to create added open space in the compost area for my approaching week-long absence from home. The effort now should pay off when I return, so I won’t come home to a disaster of overflowing piles.

Manure management is one of those jobs that is made easy by frequent attention. Let it go for a day or two between scooping and it can become an exponentially more significant project.

Last night, I opened up a gate to a section of pasture that still has long grass, to allow the herd a brief session of grazing. The first thing three of them did was pee. The second thing they took turns doing was laying down and rolling around.

When I looked their direction to see they finally got around to seriously grazing, the setting sun was illuminating the clouds to create the impression of a great conflagration. Photo Op!

One last day at the day-job today before vacation. I hope to try mowing the yard tonight and maybe doing a little laundry so I can pack clean clothes for the bike trip.

If I pack warm clothes and rain gear, maybe I won’t need them. We all know that if I don’t pack those things, it would guarantee that the week would turn out cold and wet.

If we see fiery clouds in the evenings during the bike trip, I hope it will mean, “sailor’s delight.”

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

DejaVu Again

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With less than a week until I leave for my umpteenth annual Tour of Minnesota bicycling and camping week, planning is well underway. Surprisingly, we are also in the midst of planning for coverage to assist Cyndie with life and ranch chores while she recovers from a surgery.

With a totally unexpected speed usually associated with emergency procedures, the office of the orthopedic surgeon initiated an accelerated series of appointments leading to repair of Cyndie’s shoulder on Tuesday, just three days before I leave for my trip.

They got her fitted with a special sling to be used for days after the procedure, and on her way home she was able to squeeze in the requisite pre-op physical. Cyndie will be back on pain meds and placed on the disabled list for ranch management activities for weeks after her surgery.

And I will be on vacation for a week. Good luck with that.

It’s a bit distracting, trying to take a break from the routine, while faced with the knowledge my wife is unable to fulfill her own role, let alone cover for my absence.

The solution: Family and friends.

We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Thank you, in advance, to all who are volunteering to take a shift covering our needs of Cyndie-care and animal care this week while I try to keep hours at the day-job and then leave for a week of vacation.

You’ll just love the chickens!

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Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2017 at 9:07 am

Working Through

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Some chores don’t wait for nice weather, so we ventured out into the constant drizzle on Sunday to open space in our compost area, despite the inconvenience. Cyndie had moved the horses indoors out of the wet on Saturday night, which resulted in soiled wood shavings in their stalls at a time when we didn’t have space in the compost area.

Luckily, there is a spot next to the barn where we’ve been using composted manure and old hay to fill in a drop in the landscape. The area had been a too convenient runway for water drainage that was problematic. Bringing it back to level with the surrounding area will spread and slow water flowing from above.

Out came the Grizzly, after putting air in the leaky front tire, and the metal grate trailer for an increasingly muddier series of loads from the compost area. Very similar to working on moving innumerable bales of hay, as time goes by, the loads seemed to get heavier and heavier and I started to move slower and slower. Cyndie pushed back against my increasing moments of pause, with a goal of getting the job done as quickly as possible so she could get in out of the cold and wet.

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When she proclaimed we were down to just two loads remaining, I corrected her with the estimation of four loads. After I tried to take out a small load to assure my estimation would win, she suggested we could toss some of the last bits into the woods around the compost area, leading to an outcome of three loads completing the task. It was declared a tie.

We were wet, it was muddy, but we had worked through the nasty weather to accomplish a necessary chore. We now have open space for composting again.

And not a moment too soon.

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Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2017 at 6:00 am